Chancellor Philip Hammond has been urged to get out his cheque book to save the financially-stricken NHS and social care system, as thousands of demonstrators prepare to march in London in support of the health service on Saturday (4 March).
As the chancellor prepares to deliver his first budget on Wednesday, 8 March, Unite, the country’s largest union, called for the £22 billion of so-called ‘savings’ the government demands by 2020 to be reversed.
The union, which has 100,000 members in the health service, also called for action on the estimated £2.8 billion shortfall in local authority social care provision.
The ‘Our NHS’ national demonstration, organised Health Campaigns Together and the People’s Assembly, will assemble at Tavistock Square, London WC1 at noon on Saturday (4 March) and then march through the capital to Parliament Square.
Unite national officer for health Sarah Carpenter said: “The NHS, which is underpinned by a brilliant and dedicated workforce, has struggled throughout this winter. The evidence that the health service is starved of cash has been horrific with patients waiting on trolleys for treatment.
“When Philip Hammond gets up to deliver his budget next week, he needs to open his cheque book and be generous to the NHS – it is what the British public wants.
“He can take comfort from the boost in self-assessment tax receipts and a bumper flow of capital gains tax to the exchequer that has sent the government’s borrowing bill to its lowest January level in 17 years.
“The NHS crisis and the challenges facing social care are intricately linked and it is something that some Tories are concerned about. It was the Conservative-controlled Surrey county council that was contemplating a referendum on a 15 per cent rise in council tax to pay for social care.”
Unite is also concerned that private companies are gaining an ever greater foothold within the NHS and that years of pay restraint has seen the value of NHS staff salaries reduced by 14 per cent since 2010.
The union said that the government’s 44 sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) in England are a smokescreen for a massive programme of hospital and community service closures, and are its latest ruse for the privatisation agenda.
The link to Unite event page
The organisers’ website
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940.
Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.